These past few weeks it’s become evident that the Las Vegas Raiders are regressing in the run game. The question is, what can they do about it? They need to draft a guard to get started, it all starts in the trenches after all.
One of the most obvious drop-offs for the Raiders these past few weeks has been the running game. Whether it’s injuries or the lack of talent at guard, the unit under offensive line coach Tom Cable. We all know Gabe Jackson’s solid but he hasn’t been the same in 2020. His contributions to the run game have significantly fallen off, Pro Football Focus currently grades him at 57.1 in said department.
Denzelle Good who’s seen action along the offensive line, has 338 run snaps and is graded at 57.4 for his efforts. The other concern for the Raiders is Richie Incognito, he’s up there in age now along with his share of wear and tear. He could realistically return for another year, but then what? The Raiders should look at some college prospects that have excelled in run-blocking to help rebuild the offensive line.
Who can the Raiders look to for help?
When it comes to run-blocking, there are three prospects that Las Vegas brass could start to scout if they want to get Josh Jacobs going again.
Cain Madden from Marshall, Mike Johnson from Army, and William Dunkle from San Diego State could provide relief. Madden is a six-foot-three mauler weighing in at 313 pounds that has the highest run-block grade per PFF. The film shows Madden dominates in the run, take a look for yourself. He’s shown exponential growth each of the last three years at Marshall. Madden’s graded overall at 66.7, 75.9, and 93.7 in that span, respectively.
Dunkle and Johnson might not be the biggest names at guard but make no mistake, they’re intriguing prospects for Cable to mold next year. Both of these guards graded at or over 88 in run blocking out of the top 130 prospects.
As far as who’s the most evenly developed at guard, the honor goes to Dunkle who also has a decent pass-blocking grade of 72.3. As we’ve seen this year, injuries can happen at any time thrusting young offensive linemen into action. John Simpson by all accounts should’ve ridden the bench all year instead he saw snaps that’ll help speed his development.
All things considered, the Raiders really need to take a hard look at the guard position. If Raiders head coach Jon Gruden wants to emphasize his run power scheme from 1998, he’ll need more help to do so.
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*Top Photo: Associated Press/D. Ross Cameron